April 2020

Student Spotlight: A Summer Internship During COVID19

By Lacey Cummings

Looking for a summer internship is something I have been doing since August of last year. I primarily focused on the interview days through the Career Center. I signed up for four interviews at the Media & Communications Interview Day on Thursday, March 5. The COVID-19 outbreak was just starting to affect Georgia and one of my interviews had to cancel. None of the opportunities that I interviewed with at the job fair worked out, but the organization that canceled contacted me a few weeks later. On the first day of spring break, I interviewed over Zoom and about a week later I got the call that they were offering me the job. I had found out about this job through the Career Center on Handshake. Since getting the job, I have used Handshake to register my internship and find possible jobs in the future. Because of the current situation in Georgia, I was not able to have “usual” internship experience, but I am grateful that the Career Center was able to connect me with an employer.

23rd Annual Student Research Conference Goes Online

By Jordan Cofer

The 23rd Annual Student Research Conference was able to continue and successfully move online. Thanks to the conference organizers, Drs. Kelly Massey and Doreen Sams, as well as Digital Archivist, Holly Croft, an online format was created.

Students were still extremely interested in putting their material online. The conference includes 57 presentations by 92 students. The conference officially went online on April 20th to align with CUR's Undergraduate Research week.

To view and comment on the student presentations, visit the conference here: https://kb.gcsu.edu/src/2020/

More info here: https://frontpage.gcsu.edu/node/4776

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Assessment Results on Written Communication: What Do We Know About Our Students' Writing Skills?

By Cynthia Alby

Faculty have long expressed concerns that our seniors are not demonstrating the level of writing ability we would expect to see in graduates of a high-quality liberal arts institution. But is this in fact the case? And to what extent do students’ writing skills develop over the course of their time with us? To find out, GC Journeys and Institutional Effectiveness sent 95 writing samples from first year students (GC1Y courses) and 95 samples from seniors (capstone courses) to the VALUE Institute, led by the Association of American Colleges and Universities (AAC&U), to be scored using the nationally developed VALUE rubric for written communication. This rubric describes each of the elements listed in the charts that follow. Scorers are extensively trained on the rubric for interrater reliability.

Let’s begin by looking at the question of the extent to which our students’ writing improves from their first year to their final year. Note that “4-Capstone” is a very high bar and that “3-Milestone” would be the level expected of a solid college graduate. One can consider levels 1 and 2 “below expectations” for college graduates and levels 3 and 4 “at or above expectations.”
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The data suggest that many of our students arrive with fairly impressive writing competencies, and where we shine is helping many of these students move from very good to exceptional. Especially in terms of sources and evidence, we see phenomenal growth from first year to senior year. And overall, we move about 7% of students from below expectations to meeting them. Let’s take a closer look at students who scored at or above expectations.

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But about 30% of students come to us with fairly mediocre writing skills, and about 23% leave still writing below expectations. I suspect if we asked our faculty or even the general public what percentage of our graduates should score at level 3 or 4, 77% would not be acceptable; they would want to see more like 90-100%. When faculty complain that our seniors don’t write as well as they should, these results suggest they are right in the case of nearly one quarter of our students. But if it makes you feel any better, our students score about 6 percentage points higher than the national average for four-year institutions who participate in the VALUE Institute. And because it is expensive to participate in the Institute (we were able to because we received a grant), one imagines the comparison institutions trend toward the wealthier schools.

Other Interesting Results

  • Pell-eligible students outperformed non-Pell in every category except being 2 points lower on disciplinary conventions. In fact, Pell-eligible outperformed non-Pell on “sources and evidence” by 13%, and Pell-eligible students were more likely across the board to score at the highest level - 4’s rather than 3’s.

  • Students of color trailed behind white students by about 10-15% in most categories, but in “grammar and syntax” they are behind 34%.

  • Males slightly out performed females in three categories, but females slightly outperformed males in two categories.

What Does This Mean For Us?

GC Journeys has focused primarily on the “transformative experiences” (HIPs) aspect of the program for the past two years. In fall 2020 we will begin to build the “essential skills” aspect of the program. Every course in both the core and the major will explicitly teach one of 14 essential skills, one of which is written communication. Hopefully as students take more classes that have “written communication” as a focus, these numbers will improve. Clearly, we also need to ensure that our strategies take inclusive excellence into consideration. But we have a talented and devoted faculty, so with the increasing focus on teaching essential skills, we may be able to move much closer to our ideal fairly quickly.

This short overview does not even begin to scratch the surface of the quantity of data provided from our participation in the VALUE Institute.

  • If you are interested in learning more about this, please contact Dr. Cynthia Alby at cynthia.alby@gcsu.edu

GC Journeys Awarded National Grant for High-Impact Practices

By Jordan Cofer

This April, we received word that Georgia College was the recipient of NASH (National Association of System Heads) Scaling High Impact Practices (HIPs) Mini Grant. The grant for $4,000 will be used to support transformative experiences in the GC Journeys program. The grant is more recognition of GC's embrace of instituting high impact practices at scale.
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Over 100 people attend GC Journeys Info Sessions in 2019-2020

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Starting in Fall 2019, Dr. Cofer implemented GC Journeys Info Sessions. During these short (30 minute) information sessions, Dr. Alby and Cofer offered an overview about both the transformative experiences and essential skills included in GC Journeys.

The final info session, offered on April 16th, was the first online info session ever offered and had 32 people in attendance, the largest info session all year. "It went surprisingly well," said Alby. "We got really great feedback and didn't have any technical glitches." Cofer added, "Overall, we had some large info sessions and some more intimate sessions, but they have all been valuable. We've made some important changes based on the feedback we received."

This year, a total of 103 people attended GC Journeys info sessions. All attendees received a GC Journeys sticker. "At the outset," said Cofer, "I had no idea if people would be interested, I'm so glad that we had such a great response."

Sign Up for GC Journeys Summer Transformative Learning Experiences Course (Online)

Thinking about adding an experience to a course to make it more transformative for students? Earn the “Transformative Experiences Faculty Certification”!

As we all prepare for a summer likely to be spent sheltering at home, we may find a hidden blessing – more time to develop new courses or tweak current ones. I know many of you are interested in adding a transformative experience/high impact practice to one of your courses or developing a course around an experience: Leadership, Community-based Engaged Learning, Internships, Study Abroad, or Undergraduate Research. Now is an ideal time to work on that with plenty of support. You can also earn $300 in faculty development funds for your own use for AY 20-21.

· Who: Full-time faculty members (space is limited to 20 participants)

· What: A workshop series on incorporating a transformative experiences (high impact practices) into a course

· When: 2-5pm on June 1, 3, 8, and 10 with a “sharing out” session on July 30

· Where: On line!

· How: Register using this survey by May 11th

· By: The Office of the Provost, GC Journeys, and the Center for Teaching and Learning

· Why: Transformative Experiences (aka “high impact practices”) make a significant impact on student learning, engagement, and retention and are fast becoming a cornerstone of the GC Journeys program. These experiences provide faculty with new possibilities for utilizing their strengths, revitalizing their teaching and scholarship, and developing more meaningful relationships with students. Many GC faculty want to incorporate or lead a high impact practice, but have requested more support, particularly when it comes to the nuts and bolts of making them work and ensuring high quality. This is an opportunity to work one-on-one with experts, get plenty of feedback, and have the support of a cohort of individuals all working on similar projects.

Everyone who completes the course will receive $300 in professional development funds from the Office of Transformative Learning Experiences, as well as a Transformative Experiences Faculty Certification for leading a Transformative Experience/High Impact Practice.


Questions? Email journeys@gcsu.edu